Impreza is a name that will be hugely familiar to many rally fans, it is said model, and in the hands of the late Colin McRae that got me into motorsport – gone though are the glory days, as the Impreza we once loved, is nothing more than a distant memory.
The previous generation Impreza was nothing more than a bland, utilitarian mode of transport – gutless, hard on fuel, expensive to tax and incredibly uninspiring – not great credentials, that’s for sure!
Harsh words you may think, but it was a stark contrast to the Impreza we grew to love from the mid 90’s and not a car that was ever hugely popular on our roads, maybe a sign that Subaru, the Japanese maker, had lost its touch.
Since the launch of the Subaru Levorg however, the hugely reliable brand, from the land of the rising sun, has been reaffirming itself as a force to be reckoned with by reliving the glory days with the Levorg in the British Touring Car Championship.
Now I know I would be offering false hope, if I was to say that the Impreza was soon to relive its glory days with this new model as I am confident that the words Impreza and glory are only ever to be seen in the history books.
That said, this latest Impreza is an all-new car, far removed in many ways from the largely awful outgoing model and should reignite some success rather than glory, for Subaru as it will appeal to a greater market with more tech, spec and safety than ever before!
I am sure this review is the first of its kind on UK roads, ahead of the press launch next month and my appreciation goes to Subaru NI and Desmond Eastwood Motors for the chance to experience the Impreza before anyone else – especially in challenging conditions thanks to Caroline.
The Impreza is so new in fact; that this model tested was only off the boat and not yet even registered and with the opening of the order books being imminent, customer test drives are soon to be available throughout the dealer network.
Based upon an all-new ‘Subaru Global platform’, the Impreza is Subaru’s first model to employ this chassis, one that is much stiffer and safer than before, which, combined with the brands infamous symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and boxer engine, looks promising.
Design wise, the Impreza has been talked about as a love child of Ford’s Mondeo after an intimate rub in the shopping centre car park with Peugeot’s 308, whilst another comment asked had Subaru enlisted some designers from Kia?
All of the above are generally great looking cars in their own right, so I guess Subaru have done something right with the design of this model and I personally see a lot of design inspiration moving across from the Levorg, the Impreza’s longer brother.
I quite like it if the truth be told, and the 17” alloy wheels are fabulously styled, though the Impreza is very much in its ways, a safe and practical family car above anything else with all sporting pedigree from previous generations, long gone.
C-Shaped LED daytime running lights, now familiar on the Subaru range, flow well into the emphasised wings of the Impreza with privacy glass aiding the looks and keeping any young travellers safe from the sunlight in the rear of the car.
Six body colours are available on this latest model with pearl white being the only option that comes without a small paint upgrade fee and keyless entry is a convenient feature of the Impreza which comes with only one spec level, an ‘SE’.
The boot offers a wider entry area than before as well as an extra five-litres of volume, in real world terms that means you will fit a small buggy and a couple of shopping bags with relative ease, a couple of spaniels and a few shotguns or four kit-bags for weekend sports with team mates on-board.
Inside the Impreza offers a decent amount of room both front and back, with plenty of head room for those a little taller than average whilst the materials used within the cabin are much less utilitarian than before.
Don’t get me wrong, the dash etc is still undoubtedly Japanese in the way it looks and feels, but it is a vast improvement and one which I could easily live with everyday, without complaint.
Carbon effect door inserts compliment the better materials used, while metal surrounds the vents and controls around the dash offering that quality feel. Seating is heated and comfortable with improved support in some areas over the previous model to aid more comfort on long commutes.
For me, someone that is used to sports seats, I feel the Impreza would benefit from a little more support on the bolsters, but this would only come to my thoughts when in a hurry on a back road. Front and rear central armrests offer a pair of drinks holders each.
Infotainment id provided via an eight-inch touch screen system built into the dash offering Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto along with AM/FM and DAB Radio and Bluetooth connectivity with streaming, all of which can be used via the multi-function steering wheel.
This screen displays the reversing camera’s view for ease of parking in awkward areas and a separate multi-function display sits in a recess on top of the dash featuring ‘at-a-glance’ info on key vehicle systems.
Engine wise, two boxer petrol engines are available in the new Impreza, starting with a 1.6L priced from £23,995 as well as a 2.0L priced from £24,995 – both of which come with only one gearbox – Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT ‘box.
The 1.6L model tested would benefit from the turbocharger as fitted to the Levorg – I found it a little lacking personally. That said though, I have never been a fan of normally aspirated transport and I guess as a mode of family transport, it will suit many buyers’ needs.
I can see the 2.0L engine being a little more popular due to increased power and torque, whilst the CVT transmission won’t be to everyone’s taste, it gets the job done and I think it is a great ‘box for those who don’t think they are the next Colin Mcrae.
The Impreza drives as well as anything else within the segment and as you would expect, drive better than many of its rivals which could be Honda’s Civic, Mazda’s 3 or Toyota’s Auris – none of which, to the best of my knowledge, offer all-wheel-drive or advanced safety technology as standard.
As a package, the Impreza provides confidence, it provides security and safety via its symmetrical all-wheel-drive and low centre of gravity due to the nature of the boxer engine but most of all it provides class leading safety systems as standard.
The main safety feature of the Impreza is Subaru’s ‘EyeSight’ which we have experienced many times in the past at various test events and it is arguably the best system of its kind in the world consisting of six elements.
These features being adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway and departure warning, lane keep assist and lead vehicle start alert. In addition the Impreza is equipped with high beam assist and steering responsive headlights.
Another suite of safety technology comes on the Impreza, called the ‘Subaru rear vehicle detection system’ (SRVD) which helps the driver change lanes on the motorway safely or detect hard to see hazards when completing low-speed manoeuvres.
As a new package, I like it and know the Impreza will appeal to many, especially those in rural areas who don’t feel the need for a large SUV, but need the safety that this Subaru provides – however I do feel that for our market a diesel engine would be very welcomed.
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
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